Adjusting to a pandemic: Capstone Edition


By: IISE Ryerson Student Chapter Social Team – Yousef Ubaid,Cindy Nguyen, Anam Fatima, and Katelyn Quiachon

Edited by: Munira Verdawala

As we approach the end of this semester, many of us are still coping with the challenges raised by the pandemic. Virtual classes and virtual student gatherings are no match to what student life at Ryerson used to be. The pandemic has undoubtedly deeply impacted first year students who were unable to experience a traditional frosh, however many of us may not be as familiar with the struggles that students who are in their last year are facing. IISE Ryerson Chapter 888 has focused our attention on these students’ journeys in completing their capstone or thesis projects virtually. We asked several industrial engineering students in their last year of undergraduate studies to share their experiences with us, hoping to shed some light on their hardships.

Communication and interaction on a daily basis have entirely shifted to an online platform in light of the new normal. This not only hinders students from effectively communicating and building connections with their peers and professors, but has also caused coordinating issues with everyone’s busy schedules.  Instead of walking up to a professor and asking them questions during office hours, students have had to either wait for an email response from them or book an appointment in advance. 

Nadeem Younas is an  Industrial Engineering student facing these obstacles and says,  “In the given situation, most people refuse to have an in-person interaction unless there is a mutual gain or an absolute necessity for it. This makes it difficult to find workplaces that are willing to provide students a project and also puts a limit on the amount of physical interaction the workplace is willing to have with the student”. 

Capstone projects involving group work have imposed further limitations due to inability of students to get together to complete projects, thereby slowing down productivity. Yousef Ubaid mentions his frustrations with virtual group projects, “It is very hard to find the time to coordinate with the group members to meet and work on projects given that anything could come up in their day since we cannot practically see each other or know where we are.”

Along with the barriers posed by the pandemic, students also mentioned some of the advantages that come along with virtual capstone projects. Most students are grateful for lack of commute, self-paced lectures, and overall, more down time. “Online school provided exposure to a new way of learning, and better prepared us for the future in terms of being able to tackle a similar scenario if it were to occur in the future”, says Haseab Ullah.

Needless to say, students’ experiences with their capstone projects were drastically different this year as compared to the past. Being halfway through the school year, senior undergrads are getting adjusted to their circumstances and have some recommendations for their juniors. Most students emphasized reaching out to a company as early as possible, along with choosing a partner and supervisor early on. Most students also wish they’d have chosen projects that can be conducted virtually with minimum in-person interactions. Students also recommend coordinating with the Faculty for their advice on the project to be efficiently carried out.

Despite the different obstacles that so many are facing we encourage students to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and to take care of themselves during these unprecedented times. We want to remind students to try and make the most of every opportunity. The silver lining is that these students are so close to graduating and are about to start the next chapter of their lives post-Ryerson. The IISE team wishes all senior undergrads the best for their future endeavours.

A big thanks goes to these students for taking the time to share their stories: 

  • Rebecca Tran, 4th/5th Year Industrial Engineering  
  • Ryan Strba, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
  • Amar Latchman, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
  • Yousef Ubaid, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
  • Nadeem Younas, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
  • Haseab Ullah, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering

For more content from IISE Ryerson Chapter 888, stay tuned and keep up with us through our socials because there is a lot planned for all of you!

Ryan Strba, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
Amar Latchman, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
Yousef Ubaid, 4th year Year Industrial Engineering
Rebecca Tran, 4th/5th Year Industrial Engineering 

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